The 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season is halfway there, but some of the key headlines are surrounding the 2024 grid. Silly season is sillier than ever before, and the talk is centred around BMW for the time being. After Toprak Razgatlioglu’s bombshell switch from his current Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK team to the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, the transfer market has hit overdrive and it shows no signs of relenting. Current factory BMW riders Scott Redding and Michael van der Mark are both vying to remain inside the factory camp, and both spoke to the media across the weekend to share their views on their 2024 whereabouts.
VAN DER MARK VYING TO PARTNER TOPRAK: “I have nothing to worry about”
Speaking on Friday, van der Mark – who has been out injured since his home round at Assen – was adamant in his future, saying that he’s got no reason be worried: “I’ve been staying home for a while now and I haven’t enjoyed it! I’ll be back on the grid next year, I have nothing to worry about. That’s all I can say.”
Asked about whether the idea is to continue with BMW or not, the Dutchman responded: “That’s my idea for sure… like I say, I have nothing to worry about and first of all, I need to be fully fit. We have had 2 years with a lot of injuries so hopefully, the bad luck is over.” Questioned on when we can expect an announcement, the 2014 WorldSSP Champion was coy: “I have no idea but we’ll see.”
The five-time WorldSBK race winner – including being the only one to achieve it with BMW in the last 10 seasons so far – also shared his thoughts on good friend Toprak joining the team for 2024, something he welcomed publicly at the time, giving intrigue about his own future: “I think it is good; Toprak is always motivated and pushes hard. He has a different way riding style, that’s for sure, so it will be interesting to see how he works on our bike. BMW is pushing really hard on development which is what we need, so the commitment is there and Toprak will be there. Everyone can’t wait to see what happens!”
REDDING PRIORITY TO STAY WITH BMW? “I have the BMW option which is important for me”
Across the box and Scott Redding has already confirmed that he has until July 15th to decide whether he’d like to take up his option to remain with BMW or to walk away after two seasons. It’s been a tough two years for the #45, with no victories, although a strong home round at Donington Park could have given him plenty of food for thought regarding whether he stays or goes.
Speaking about his own future ahead of the round, Redding said that “time is running out” to make a decision, but his “priority” was to continue with BMW and in WorldSBK, although he’s “looking at all other options”, wherever that might be. He also said that “I need to believe in the project like they’ve believed in me, and I just think that this weekend, having a reset and regroup and to understand a bit more, will help me make some decisions for the future.”
So, the reset brought a first top four finish of the season and general competitivity across the full-distance races, so what did the 30-year-old say at the close of the weekend: “It feels nice to feel like Scott Redding on the bike! It’s been a tough season but to have the feeling of the bike talking to me, I can understand what to do and how to ride and be able to push the bike in the way that I want. It’s been an enjoyable two races!”
However, 2024 is where the juicy stuff is, so with the improved feeling, has it helped at all in his decision making? “There’s obviously a lot of talk going on at the moment and just to show people that I’ve still got it… I know that I have it and it is hard to convince people when the results aren’t showing. When I’m racing, I know what I can or can’t do but I can express that as much as I want but in reality, people don’t care, they want results. Sunday was good to be top BMW and come through so strong, I’m happy. I can come in and say ‘this is me able to ride a bike, not a passenger’ so I hope in the next races, we can have something good as well.”
Getting the spicy part of his future, Redding confirmed that he’s like to be staying in WorldSBK: “I think you’ll be seeing me in this paddock, that’s for sure. We need to see. I have the BMW option which is important for me and that’s where I’m at. Let’s see in the next couple of weeks and see if I can get something to be at the front.”
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: both are teammates to Toprak?
It’s unconventional but it has been done before and it is allowed. A team can field three bikes within one team and maybe if Redding does take up his option to remain and van der Mark stays – he said on the grid at Assen for the Dutch GP to MotoGP.com that his “teammate will be fast next year” when talking about Toprak’s arrival – then the rules do permit a three-bike team.
In 2008, the Alstare Suzuki outfit did this with riders Fonsi Nieto, Yukio Kagayama and Max Neukirchner and in the same year, the Ten Kate Honda team had Carlos Checa, Kenan Sofuoglu and Ryuichi Kiyonari in their team. In 2012, Effenbert Liberty Ducati had a three-rider team of Sylvain Guintoli, Jakub Smrz and the late Maxime Berger. In 2013, the Goldbet BMW outfit put an extra bike on the grid at Magny-Cours for a wildcard with Sylvain Barrier alongside regular riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies whilst in 2018, Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s presence expanded to three riders, albeit with Michael Ruben Rinaldi in the “Junior Team”, with riders Davies and Melandri up in the main factory setup.
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